Stories

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See our Student Writing Book 2017 here: Student Writing Book 2017

  • 58 A New Beginning “Thank you for my new life!”
  • Vai’s success story Vai first found out about adult literacy when his workplace, Ritchies Coachlines, offered drivers a literacy programme with Literacy North Shore. Vai could speak English quite well, but he could not always understand what passengers were saying. Other tasks, like filling out accident forms, insurance forms, were difficult because he could not understand what all the questions meant. The workplace literacy programme was 40 hours, over 4 months, at 2 days a week, 1-2 hours a day. He learnt English reading, writing, speaking, RT communication, numbers, especially relating to the paperwork he needed for his work. Vai learned a lot of skills to help him in his work. Vai wanted to continue his English study, so he came to Literacy Waitakere, which is near his home, to continue to learn English, writing, spelling, speaking, computer.  Most importantly, Vai wants to learn more computer skills which will give him more opportunities in the future.  Learning is in small groups of 7 or 8 people, where he gets plenty of individual attention, and he learns what he wants to learn. Originally from Samoa, Vai attended school until form 2 at high school, but left early to help his family work on the plantation growing taro and bananas to sell in the markets. That was how his family made their living. In 1973 when Vai came to NZ, he started work in the dye house at Feltex carpets, dying the wool for Tattersfield carpets.  He worked there for 8 years, then worked for the next 8 years at Auckland City Council, 8 years driving a taxi, and has worked as a bus driver for nearly 8 years at Ritchies.  Working all this time he has been able to support his family. In 6 years Vai will retire, and as he gets close to retiring, Vai wants to learn ...
  • Jimmy shares his learning experience Why did you start at Literacy Waitakere? I started because I wanted to better myself and improve choices with my children. I bluffed my way into work, I’d been able to keep my job for 8 years ’til I was made redundant. Going to the hospital, couldn’t fill out the forms for my kids, it was embarrassing. Has reading and writing always been a problem for you? In school some people learn quick and others don’t, some can get up to the right level without thinking. Now you have to print everything, there’s lots of written work for everything. I didn’t think my writing was too bad. Some subjects were easy, some hard. Maths was the best. I like the figures, everyday lifestyle needed it, times tables, budgets, quoting for work. I always enjoyed figures, maths always clicked in. When did you decide you wanted to do something about it? In my late 20’s I started looking for help. I knew I needed help, knew where I could go but we’re proud people you know.  I went to a programme on and off for a year then I went overseas for work opportunities.  I found lots of people like me. On the Oprah Show I saw even the rich man couldn’t read and write but he made millions. I started looking at myself. What made you finally address your reading and writing issues? I realised I can’t kid myself. When I came back from overseas I went through some lifestyle changes over the years. I’ve got kids who need help with their homework. I saw a T.V ad about a fireman who couldn’t do his exams because of his reading and writing. They had a phone number at the bottom, I called straight away, that was in 2006. That was when literacy was in Henderson Valley Road. How did you feel about taking the ...
  • Dara Davenport, recipient of an award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in 2012 Dara says: “I have come to learn that our ‘kete’ is full when you get to know the learner and consider their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being. When you find out what they want to learn, use meaningful resources, acknowledge what the learner already knows and brings with them and when you use their current skills as a starting point for developing tuition. I have come to learn that when working collaboratively in an environment of care, where individual progress is celebrated, the fabric of a learner’s life can change. I have come to learn that learning does not remain with the individual but touches the lives of their whanau and their communities. I have come to learn that Maori pedagogy is not only for Maori, but is effective for many cultures. I have come to learn that the relationship between the tutor and the learner is central to effective learning. I have come to learn that education involves the heart as well as the head. I have come to learn of the strength required to come forward and ask for help in a society that judges people to be ‘dumb’ if they are unable to read, write or do maths. I have come to learn that there is always more to learn, that you can never stop and say, “I know all there is to know about this”, that there is always something out there to improve my knowledge base and to improve my practice. My greatest learning, however, has come from the literacy learners themselves.  They have shared their lives and their hearts.  They have shared strategies that have worked and I have been privileged to be able to take these, add them to my ‘kete’ and share them with others. “
  • Apprentice thriving with literacy support Adrian is an adult apprentice electrician who admits he has struggled with his off-job course work. Now with one-to-one assistance from Literacy Waitakere there’s nothing stopping him. Adrian’s early primary school years were interrupted by extensive surgery to one of his legs, added to this was a dyslexia and ADHD diagnosis. “By the time I started going to school regularly, I had pretty much missed the basics. I was always so far behind all the other kids with basic reading, writing and maths that I could never catch up.” Adrian left school at 16 and started work on a farm, learning to build and fix things. “I really enjoy working with tools.  I like pulling things to pieces, working out how they work, and then fitting all the pieces back together again. “I knew that I would enjoy the practical side of being an electrician but I wasn’t sure about the course work.  I told them (my provider) when I started my apprenticeship that I couldn’t read and write very well but I don’t think they understood that I meant what I said.” Adrian did struggle with the course materials and even taking advantage of extra tuition from his training provider didn’t help. However he persevered and after talking with his provider and with staff at The Skills Organisation (the ITO for electricians) Adrian was referred to Literacy Waitakere for individual tuition. By this time Adrian had also completed an online Literacy and Numeracy assessment with The Skills Organisation and an in-depth interview to identify what types of literacy support would benefit him. With a learning plan that has specific learning goals and includes what Adrian is doing at work, his learning experience is now very different. “My tutor Neil doesn’t make me feel stupid.  He takes the time and will try different ways of doing things, ...
  • Alejandra’s Testimony Almost six years ago I came to Auckland from Christchurch looking for work after I lost my job due to the Christchurch earthquake. The first place that I rang was the Crowne Plaza Hotel. I got an interview for a position as a room attendant. The day of the interview, while I was waiting for the housekeeping manager in the lobby area, I made a long-term goal: I wanted to be a receptionist. But for me it was something almost impossible because at the time, although I could understand English, I couldn’t speak it very well. Since coming to New Zealand, I’ve been working in full-time positions, leaving me without much time to study and improve my English. So the only option has been to study by myself. It was okay to learn basic grammar but too difficult to practice speaking because I’m not a talkative person. The English language is a challenge for me and for that reason I’ve always looked for situations that allow me to work and study. Two years ago, my mum took me to her English school called Literacy Waitakere. It’s an institution that has a programme for work-place students that helps them to improve their chances to become better qualified and also to improve their communication in the workplace. It’s free and they also try to fit in around your working hours. Since I enrolled here as a one-to-one workplace student, this course has given me the confidence that I needed to take the next step towards my goal. After four and half years of working in housekeeping, I got the opportunity in 2015 to move to the front office as a concierge of the hotel. In this position, I’ve had more interaction with different guests that allows me to practice the language, each time with different scenarios. ...
  • Terrene gained self-esteem Please read this carefully – because you can. For many thousands of Aucklanders, born here or recent arrivals, it will be a struggle. Adults who have difficulties with reading, writing or ‘rithmetic need help – and helping them would be a massive boost to our region and our economy. Rowena Orejana reports. Terrene Gibson has always struggled with reading and writing. Ordinary chores became huge tasks that she tried to avoid: reading school notices; finding people in phone books; worst, filling out forms. She avoided forms at all costs. “When I first arrived in Auckland, they asked me for my address. I didn’t know how to spell Titirangi, I didn’t know how to spell Auckland. I didn’t know how to spell my address. It was devastating.” she remembers. Almost half a million adult Aucklanders have low literacy and numeracy. Many, like Ms Gibson, construct their lives so they do not have anything to do with reading or writing. Her life was difficult. “I had a rough upbringing. When I went to school, school was a safe place for me. And that doesn’t happen for most people with literacy problems,” she explains. “But I had so much going on in my personal life that schooling was too overwhelming. I was too busy surviving.” she relates. What she discovered is that she is clever in a lot of things. “Just because I didn’t read and write doesn’t mean I’m dumb,” she says. “I was encouraged to understand what I was good at. They’ve given me the opportunity to share my knowledge.” Ms Gibson has now trained as a tutor, completing one Level 5 certificate course (CALT), and she is currently working on another (NCALE). She is teaching our Kai Time group, looking at the reading and writing and numeracy that surrounds cooking. She also works with other reading and ...